On his show “Hardball”, Chris Matthews put the hammer down on Michelle Malkin (who I’ve written about before) when she tried to argue by innuendo that John Kerry shot himself in order to get out of Vietnam.
Did she come out and make that charge? No, of course not. She claimed that “some veterans” had made it, in their book, Unfit for Command.
Fellow MSNBC anchor Keith Olbermann comments on this tactic on the Hardball blog:
She raised the story — heretofore consigned largely to Robert Novak and everybody to his right — in that delightful, Teflon way of modern politics: ‘I’m not saying that John Kerry shot himself. But in the Swift Boat Veterans’ book, they ask whether or not his wounds were self-inflicted.’
If Ms. Malkin isn’t seen on television, or moving on her own power, in the next few days, it’s understandable. My colleague Mr. Matthews forced her to hang herself out to dry ten or eleven times (never prouder of you, Chris). He may have directed the momentum, but her wounds were ultimately, uh, self-inflicted.
As Chris rightly pointed out, nobody has produced an iota of evidence that John Kerry’s wounds were anything other than the result of combat. Even in the book, the references to it are speculative and without provenance. Ms. Malkin wouldn’t even go so far as to attribute the suspicion to herself. It was in the book.
Matthews, to his credit, gave Malkin’s innuendo exactly the response it deserved — he pinned it right to the table so everyone could watch it squirm under the hot lights. Oliver Willis has the video so you can see it in all its glory for yourself.
Note that I didn’t bring the subject of shrapnel. (Got that, Keith Olbermann?) Willie Brown raised the issue.
Here is how I responded verbatim:
“Well yeah. Why don’t people ask him more specific questions about the shrapnel in his leg? There are legitimate questions about whether or not it was a self-inflicted wound.”
Matthews frantically stuffed words down my mouth when I raised these allegations made in Unfit for Command that Kerry’s wounds might have been self-inflicted. In his ill-informed and ideologically warped mind, this transmogrified into me accusing Kerry of “shooting himself on purpose” to get an award.
I repeated that the allegations involved whether the injuries were “self inflicted wounds.” I DID NOT SAY HE SHOT HIMSELF ON PURPOSE and Chris Matthews knows it.
But Malkin (unsurprisingly) leaves out the key point — that the question Matthews was asking was not whether anti-Kerry wing nuts are making “allegations”, it was whether she agreed with the “allegations”, and she refused to answer it, preferring instead to just keep repeating them. This is a common tactic in modern smear politics — float an allegation, but don’t say that you agree with it, just that lots of other people do and you’re just reporting what they’re saying.
Matthews put his finger right on the problem with that position — if you don’t think there’s something to the allegations, why are you repeating them? And if you do think there’s something to them, why would you have a problem saying so?
Malkin ends her blog post with this:
What I take away from all this is that the Democrat Party waterboys in the media are in full desperation mode. I have now witnessed firsthand and up close (Matthews’ spittle nearly hit me in the face) how the pressure from alternative media sources–the blogosphere, conservative Internet forums, talk radio, Regnery Publishing, FOX News, etc. –is driving these people absolutely batty.
Keep bringing it on.
If “the pressure from alternative media sources” is prompting journalists to finally start standing up and demanding the truth when faced with the kinds of shameful tactics deployed by Malkin, I must say I agree with her: keep bringing it on. Please!